Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis shared yesterday in HBR about how to be an agile learner.
What is learning agility?
Learning agility is the skill of learning from experiences so you can succeed in new situations. For example, a leader with learning agility can successfully transfer their talents across different parts of an organization. And individuals with high learning agility become the trusted “go-tos” for high-profile projects and high-impact positions. An agile learner can successfully navigate two different types of newness: complex work with no blueprint and situations where they have no previous experience. Where some people struggle with the high levels of ambiguity that newness creates, agile learners take advantage of the opportunity and succeed in situations where other people might stall.
Agile learners are adept at empathizing with and even anticipating different perspectives. By putting themselves in other people’s shoes, they can connect dots, spot and resolve potential conflicts, and zoom out to see the bigger picture. Rather than waiting to be told a different point of view or that something won’t work, agile learners seek out dissenting opinions and are open-minded in their approach.
Agile learners have high levels of self-awareness. They understand their impact and seek insight on how they can improve. They are specific about the support they need and confident enough to ask for help from others so they can be at their best. They see learning as a constant and are proactively curious about the world around them, borrowing brilliance from different people and places.
Questions to ask ourselves about our learning agility:
- How often do I work on something for the first time?
- When have I spent time in my courage zone (i.e., doing something I find “scary”) over the past three months?
- How do I respond when priorities and plans change without warning?
- Who do I have conversations with to learn about people and teams I have limited knowledge of?
- How confident am I in high-challenge conversations, where people have different points of view?
- How much cognitive diversity (i.e., people who bring a variety of different experiences, perspectives) do I have in my career community?
- How do I feel about asking for the help I need to succeed?
- Where do my strengths have the most impact in the work that I do?
- How frequently do I ask for feedback on what I do well, and how I could improve my impact?